Mark Cavendish probably did not expect to be cooking risotto during the Giro d'Italia presentation today in Milan. However, before RCS Sport unveiled the 2013 edition, he served the antipasto.
"I've never cooked before!" he told Cycling Weekly, referring to other Grand Tour presentations. "It's different. It's just Italian. They love a show, don't they? I came to the Giro presentation last year and it went on for so long, but it was nice to be cooking with good friends."
Sky's sprinter joined general classification riders, Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) and this year's Giro winner, Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) on the stage to cook a rice dish. Afterwards, they ate and watched RCS Sport reveal the 2013 parcours.
Cavendish's eyes scanned the list of stages and profiles projected on four monitors in Milan's Spazio Pelota. He looked at the town names, he knows Italy well, and the lines representing mountains or flats.
"There are hard days, obviously it's the Giro d'Italia, but overall it's not really hard. There are four days, especially the one day, the day over the Stelvio and Gavia that are going to be hard, but there are five definite sprints and probably two more, so there are seven sprints, which is really good for my chances."
He raced last year to the end, only to lose the points jersey to Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha). Next year, he will have even more incentive because the race, for the first time in six years, ends with a flat stage.
"I like the way they put an extra sprint on the last day," Cavendish continued. "That gives the sprinters something to wait for to, to aim for and to stay for. I'm really excited about it actually."
A flat stage starts the Giro in Naples on May 4 and gives Cavendish a chance to take the leader's pink jersey. There are other stages, such as the stage to Ivrea that features a small climb before the finish, which may or may not be sprint finishes.
"Five definite [sprint stages] but there are probably going to be seven sprints. Of the two, one's going to be hard to be a sprint, but it can be a sprint."
Cavendish drank some Astoria wine after he cooked and watched the presentation. Joined by Peta Todd and their daughter Delilah, he laughed and chatted with friends Max Sciandri and Steve Cummings. Following a few more TV interviews, he left to enjoy his off-season and finalise his plans for 2013. The Giro, he said, will definitely be on his programme, but whether it would be with Sky or another team, he would not say.
Giro d'Italia 2013 route presented
Remco Evenepoel set to compete in his first gravel race
After losing time on the gravel during the 2021 Giro d'Italia, is Evenepoel looking to step up off road?
By Ryan Dabbs •
Richmond Park bike robberies: 16-year-old arrested after string of brazen thefts in popular riding spot
The teen was arrested on suspicion of robbery and possession of a weapon after cyclists were targeted by thieves in west London
By Alex Ballinger •